Imp’s Wrestling Adventure
Last week was certainly a wild rollercoaster of the lowest of WWE lows followed by the highest of AEW highs. Worst Show Of The Year a lock in for the McMahons for the foreseeable future, as these shows that aren’t really meant for us continue to leak oil into the gears of weekly television.
On the Saudi Arabia shows, that’s five for five now. Every event seemingly rated worse than the last. Yet here I am wondering having kicked out at one… what’s wrong with you people? Are you all just gluten for punishment? What on Earth convinced you this Super Show Down would be any different? The fifth KSA show in a row accompanied by mass complaints over quality, as we’re yet again faced with twists negatively impacting the main product and/or stars.
I watched that first show back in 2018 and went, “Yeah, I’m not covering that shit again.” However 4 more shows later and there are fans STILL shocked at these outcomes?? Seriously, are you a goldfish? Do you buy into the hype so blindly that you forget what’s actually being sold to you?
There’s a reason I switched to writing about the Kingdom’s controversies in response to WWE happily b-rolling propaganda, rather than talking about the shows themselves.
Because I wasn’t bloody watching them.
*Sigh* there’s another 7 years of this so I might as well move on… to the chipper ol’ Elimination Chamber this Sunday!
What is this show?? One of my commenters a couple weeks ago suggested the idea of WWE putting on a mid-carders show, well here you go! All 4 top titles absent, matches with one episode builds, against opponents that aren’t their real programmes, or in some cases the third time we’ve seen them match-up in about 10 days.
I’d be flat out lying if I said I had any hype to be covering this show on LOPR Aftershock tonight. I evidently enjoy talking about wrestling, but man, it wouldn’t hurt for WWE to at least try.
With one week’s build the excitement isn’t real.
Elimination Chamber Predictions
Women’s Elimination Chamber Match
(Winner Faces RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch At WrestleMania)
Asuka vs Shayna Baszler vs Natalya vs Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott vs Sarah Logan
To Baszler or not to Baszler, that is the question.
Let’s start with the big one, the only match on the card with WrestleMania in its view. Good thing it’s one with WWE slap bang in the middle of a lose-lose catch 22 of their own making then.
Either Shayna Baszler wins and we see complaints of predictability, or she doesn’t and the last 3 weeks of television were a complete waste of time. All the more thrown in the air after reports from RAW talking about Big Vinny Vince McMahon not being impressed with Baszler’s match against Kairi Sane. Which would mark the second report of its kind after Survivor Series and the consecutive rug pull for the Queen of Spades after being switched out from winning the Royal Rumble last minute.
Really my biggest peeve is what this flip flopping does to the story you’re being told on television, surely you can see why fans feel burned out when characters they try to get invested in are shifted about so often that perception there’s no point in even trying is created.
4 weeks out and Randy Orton vs Edge is the only WrestleMania match with a story, now the only other one greater than ‘look I won a match, giz title plz’ could also be on the chopping block. But again, anyone other than Baszler winning results in the viewer’s time being wasted. So personally I’d 100% go with the plan, it’s too late to shift now without snapping those following the story out of giving a shit.
You’ve built Baszler up for weeks, so don’t feck about now like it’s the week of the wedding. Because the ceremony’s already started, you don’t need to crown the lass but at least follow through with what you’ve set up. 2019 was plagued with the state of play constantly shifting to the point I was invested in none of it and turned it off.
WWE didn’t bring me back, my excitement for AEW did. However, the nice surprise has been the quality of RAW since October and this past week was like crashing face first into a brick wall. The list of Smacker’s issues threatening to trickle down and flood the show with actual direction laid down.
You may have noticed my neglecting of the other challengers, do I even have to? Liv Morgan? Sarah Logan? Natalya? Not quite Great Khali but they scream ‘pod fillers’ none the less. Why are they in the Chamber? Because they’re on RAW and it’s that time of year. Storyline wise the winner has already been foretold, so on the face of it the peak of this show is ‘getting through the formalities’. When really the whole process wasn’t even needed, the story didn’t warrant it.
But it’s March dammit, got to keep rolling out those gimmick PPVs that actively hurt the storytelling of the last decade by forcing stipulations in a world of WWE’s short term writing. Not knocking how they write, but it’s bloody fair to say it doesn’t gel well with a calendar of gimmick shows.
The Elimination Chamber is always a fun gimmick, so it will be enjoyable (specially when we get a Baszler/Asuka staredown). It’s just a shame the level of hype for the show is so low thanks to the company focusing so strongly on Super Show Down before last Friday.
Imp’s Build Grade: Catch 22.
3 vs 1 Handicap Match
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Braun Strowman vs Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro
“Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?”
I spent a lot of time on that first match because in terms of content, boy howdy from here on out these previews are about to get short. A PPV card spelling out the tagline ‘Waste Of Time’.
The story here is of a few fellas claiming they’re the most talented wrestlers in WWE, but really they’re not. Set up to get destroyed by the big lad in front of the world on live Pay Per View. Which is pretty hilarious given all three lads are some of most insanely talented stars they’ve ever had, all pretty much guaranteed to be squished by the Big Straw Man.
There’s nothing else to say. The Intercontinental Championship fell off the radar with the FOX move, only recently back to relevancy thanks to, “Oh crap, it’s WrestleMania in a minute!”
Imp’s Build Grade: BRRAAAUUUNN!
Tag Team Elimination Chamber Match
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Miz & Morrison vs The Usos vs New Day vs Roode & Ziggler vs Heavy Machinery vs Lucha House Party
Poor Kofi, enjoy your consolation prize of maybe making the WrestleMania card?
LHP from outta nowhere! I guess somebody had to jump up in as the sixth team? And it couldn’t be The Revival thanks to contract disputes with both parties segmenting their branding into trademarks.
The last men’s tag chamber 4 years ago was damn fun, so in regards to this one… at least there’s that. Bound to be enjoyable, just very little reason to care. Sums up the whole show to be fair: a waste of time that WWE will at least try to validate the existence of.
So how does this match go down? Seriously, who cares? I’ll personally guess The Usos, all because of a throwaway line a week or so ago about them and New Day having one last dance on the grand stage. But just as equally we could see a retention for the champs, they’ve lost on TV both times following their Saudi victory. This is WWE, gotta pin those champions to get over the challengers… regardless of the fact that then the champions feel a tad crap.
Heavy Machinery received the Kofi Gauntlet push on Smackers, falling just short in the final confrontation. It’s just that the entire thing screams ‘perfectly fine mid-card fun’, a mild level of investment at best. Otis vs Ziggler may even be the biggest thing to spin off of this chamber, a match that’ll find itself in a battle just to not fall to the Kick Off.
Imp’s Build Grade: Don’t really care, but it should be fun though.
No Disqualification Match
Aleister Black vs AJ Styles
Ah yes, the set up for AJ Styles finally getting his WrestleMania classic. Next year.
Poor Aleister, a consistent feature of Monday Night RAW for the past half year of this new era, only to end up playing third wheel in the building of AJ Styles for The Undertaker. A WrestleMania match I don’t really care about after The Phenom beat The Phenomenal out of the O. C. leader with a single Chokeslam.
That said, this is being marketed as a dream match for clear reasons. It’s just a shame we’ll all be watching sitting there waiting for Big Undie, resulting in a scenario setting this match up to hit nowhere near that dream level.
The ‘No DQ’ stipulation likely to play out almost identically to the one episode build we got on Monday, with Black having to kick his way through AJ’s mother lovin’ best buds first. Then just when the odds appear a tad too much and RAW repeating itself again, the lights go out, a man in a big hat appears and down go The O. C.
Sending everyone all nice and happy down to WrestleMania, as long your name isn’t Aleister Black. Who cares if you were getting over, have fun in the Andre Battle Royal with the rest of last year’s NXT call ups.
Imp’s Build Grade: WWE chucking out another pairing marketed as a ‘dream match’ on a throwaway PPV. I want to care more.
RAW Tag Team Championship
Street Profits vs Seth Rollins & Murphy
The rematch after the final rematch for the other team after they had too many rematches.
Speaking of playing second fiddle to the actual WrestleMania programme. Cue the Kevin Owens match interference once again!
The next match on the list to suffer from the Saudi bubble adding one match too many to the run. A damn fun pairing, but this is their third match in little over a week. Street Profits lost, got a rematch because reasons and won, now we get another rematch but this time it really is the last one! Maybe. Rollins is sure moving on though.
Like Black vs Styles, we’re bound for a fun match whilst in full expectation for the WrestleMania set up. It’s rare to see a nice long build like Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins play out in WWE, the rivalry’s been playing out since the Survivor Series build. It’s just a shame the reason we don’t get stories like this often is the ‘locked in’ way of WWE’s storytelling, not allowing rivalries to face anyone else in that time. Which honestly makes it more confusing in McMahon’s dislike for factions, imagine how much more overdone this meal would taste WITHOUT the folk around both lads.
So another fun match in wait for the actual story to kick off via interference, paired with the fact we’ve since this match a hell of a lot as of late. This has been a common theme since the very first Saudi show, WWE need to put something of stake on the card and up oversaturating the feuds with endless repetition.
Imp’s Build Grade: I know he’s busy, but call Bill, tell him we’re sorry we’ve gotten ourselves stuck in the Groundhog Day loop again.
WWE United States Championship
Andrade vs Humberto Carillo
Siri, play ‘Here It Goes Again’ by Ok Go
Engelbert Humberdinck with his 27th championship rematch. Will he win this time???
No. Maybe. This match is picking up where the feud left off following Andrade’s 30 day suspension, yet again with the Saudi effect resulting in this now being one match too many. Just like Styles/Nakamura, Corbin/Reigns, Street Profits/Rollins & Murphy; the resulting over saturation in full effect.
The 4 man rotation of Andrade, Carillo, Garza and Mysterio has been one of my consistent highlights of RAW these past few months, but this title match did just take place last Thursday. Another one where I’ve been enjoying the thing, the match will be fine, I’m just knackered of seeing it.
This card is filled with that feeling, fun pairings I’ve been given no real reason to be excited to see. Which doesn’t surprise me given how last minute this card was thrown together.
Imp’s Build Grade: How many rematches can one man get? Are his dimples really that on fire??
Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak
Oo, how lovely.
Go on Daniel, take it to Jumanji: The Next Level
This one’s for us nerds. After trying to teach Heath Slater last week, on Smackers this past Friday Gulak claimed he knew all of Daniel Bryan’s 136 weaknesses. A bold claim! Not exactly wise given how open WWE locker rooms are, so the man himself immediately laid down the challenge, “Go on let’s have a match then, yer prick.”
Out of all the quickly set up and announced matches for this how, this might be my favourite. The simplicity speaks volumes, its two wrestlers competing over who is the best when it comes to the techniques of wrestling. It’s such the perfect point for a match like this on a B PPV following a Saudi show shouting how epic and momentous every little thing is, not everything has to be ‘OMG GREATEST THING EVER!!!’
That said, this feels a tad like a solid TV segment that’s getting the feature because there’s time to fill. Like the rest of the show I still expect to enjoy this, two damn talented technical lads showcasing how great they are. Really my only con is with the rest of the card not exactly jumping out in the excitement department, Daniel Bryan versus someone who has hardly been featured on WWE TV doesn’t exactly appear to elevate the show on the face of it.
In pure modern day WWE fashion the wrestlers themselves are talented as hell and if given the time will knock it out of the bloody park, but when it comes to the on screen product I have no reason to care about Drew Gulak at all.
I’m making it as clear as I can that I’m not knocking the performers, when you watch any other TV show and don’t really care for the characters you don’t get criticised for ‘going after the actors’. No, same thing here. The actors are great but a bad script is a bad script and these two have had very little to play with at all, rapidly throwing something together in the time left after Smackers was entirely focused on Saudi Arabia.
Final Overall Build Thoughts
AKA let’s wrap this up, Man United vs Man City kicks off in a few minutes
That’s a note I have for the whole card, when I call a match ‘meh’ I’m not going at the wrestlers themselves. It’s why I elaborate, explain myself and make it clear I’m reviewing the product presented on my screen. The depths of the character not the actor. A line blurry as hell when it comes to professional wrestling.
I truly believe today’s roster for WWE is one of the most talented ever assembled, but I also strongly feel today’s creative process is one of the worst ever at work. There isn’t one thing to quickly fix things, the whole system needs a rethink. The WWE brand has become the draw, something that’s increasingly damaged as time goes on. But in that world how the hell are you planning to make stars if you never give them the chance?
Greatness can seep through, but it stands out for a reason and if anything AEW has made that fact ever more apparent.
Throughout this preview I’ve mentioned how the matches should be fun, I’m just not invested in anything. I’ve been presented little reason to care or consequences on the Road to WrestleMania as the stakes are upped and anticipation builds. None of that is on this show.
The closest being the Women’s Elimination Chamber but the drama there isn’t thanks to on screen narrative, it’s from, “My, what will Vince do next? Will he scrap the whole story?”
That’s behind the curtain backstage stuff, actually on screen you’ve got the champion herself cheering for Shayna Baszler and a Chamber full of competitors that surely aren’t winning. Why should I dedicate my time to this again?
The build for this show has been awful, non-existent to at best lacking in purpose. All roads easily obtainable without its existence, sticking to the same schedule as always in spite of the whacking great Saudi show presenting us a lot of the same matches appearing on the mid-card tonight.
I’d call this year’s Elimination Chamber PPV an insult, but really it’s just a waste of time.
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too. I’ll be here to reply and chat this weird wrestling world.
Imp’s LIVE every Thursday on LOP Radio, this week joined by former co-host Burn to preview WWE Elimination Chamber.
Imp’s most recent columns:
Imp’s Wrestling Adventure – Why Do I Hate SmackDown So Much?
Imp’s Wrestling Adventure – Which Women’s Division Is The Best?
Imp’s Wrestling Adventure – Loser Watches Wrestler Eat Dog Food (RAW, SmackDown, AEW & NXT Feb. 1st, 2020)
Imp’s WWE Adventure – Who’s Going To Win The Rumble?
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 1: Becoming The Ace